Texas Compassionate Use Program

The Texas Compassionate Use Act establishes guidelines that allow physicians registered through the Texas Compassionate Use Registry to prescribe medical cannabis to patients with qualifying conditions.

Initially passed into law in June 2015, the Compassionate Use Act allowed low-THC medical cannabis to be used as a practical treatment for only intractable epilepsy. The passage of this law marked a huge shift in the state’s stance towards medical cannabis in Texas.

In June 2019, the Texas Compassionate Use Program was expanded, allowing medical cannabis as a possible treatment for a much broader set of qualifying conditions, including all forms of epilepsy and other seizure disorders, autism, multiple sclerosis, spasticity, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), terminal cancer, as well as other neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s disease, Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), and more.

As of June 2021, the Compassionate Use Program expanded the list of medical conditions to include all cancer diagnoses and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as qualifying conditions and raised the THC cap from 0.5% to 1% through the passage of HB 1525. The bill goes into effect September 1, 2021.

For patients, the passage and expansion of the Compassionate Use Program (CUP) means that through their physician, they now have access to a new prescription option to address symptoms such as anxiety, seizures, depression, pain, spasms, insomnia, lack of appetite, restlessness and many others.

For doctors and physicians, the Texas Compassionate Use Act provides them with another, more natural medicine to help their patients deal with some of the most severe conditions experienced today.

Ultimately, the CUP opens new doors in the way patients and doctors work together to alleviate and manage their conditions.

What Conditions Are Covered Under The Compassionate Use Program?

Under the Compassionate Use Program, patients are eligible to receive a prescription for medical CBD and low-THC cannabis if they have any of the following conditions:

  • All forms of epilepsy and other seizure disorders 
  • Autism and other spectrum disorders
  • Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
  • Spasticity 
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) 
  • Terminal Cancer 
  • All Cancer (Starting September 1, 2021)
  • Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementias
  • Parkinson’s Disease 
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) (Starting September 1, 2021)
  • Huntington’s Disease 
  • Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE)
  • Over 100 other incurable neurodegenerative diseases

How Does This Affect CBD, Cannabis, And Marijuana In The State Of Texas?

It is still a crime to possess marijuana (over 0.3% THC by weight) not prescribed by a registered doctor for an approved condition in the state of Texas. While the passage of Texas House Bill 3703 in 2019 did a lot to expand and improve access to medical marijuana for qualified patients, it did not change any state regulations around recreational use. Although HB1535 was a small expansion to the medical marijuana program, it did add all cancer diagnoses and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to the list of qualifying conditions and raised the THC cap to 1%, effective September 1, 2021.

Under the provisions of the Texas Compassionate Use Act, low-THC medical cannabis can be used in the medical treatment of approved conditions, under the supervision of a registered physician.

Cannabis In Texas: A Legislative Timeline

The history of cannabis in Texas stretches back over 100 years. The recent passage of House Bill (HB) 3703 serves as landmark legislation for the state. Follow along cannabis’ lengthy journey to becoming a legal medical treatment in Texas below.

  • Cannabis was used as the prime medicine for more than 100 separate illnesses or diseases in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia.
  • In response to increased refugee immigration caused by the Mexican Civil War, El Paso, Texas criminalized marijuana and became the first American city to ban the medicine.
  • The first state legislation passes restricting the use of cannabis for non-medical use along with other narcotics. This law made the transfer of cannabis a misdemeanor, but still allowed possession to be legal.
  • Legislation passes that restricts the possession of narcotics, including cannabis. Cannabis is no longer available as an over-the-counter medicine in Texas.
  • Large scale prohibition passes that makes cannabis illegal to possess statewide. Cannabis is classified as a narcotic and can carry the penalty of a life sentence even for small amounts. This classification stays in place until 1973.
  • Texas House Bill 447 passes and is signed into law. This bill greatly reduced the criminal penalties tied to cannabis offenses. 447 also brought re-sentences to prisoners who were incarcerated for cannabis offenses, leading to the release of 95 people.
  • Texas House Bill 2391 gave police the ability to give citations for cannabis misdemeanor offences as opposed to taking offenders to jail. Even though the bill was signed into law by former Governor Rick Perry, many state police departments said they would continue to arrest cannabis offenders.
  • 100 years after the first legal clampdown on cannabis was passed in El Paso, Governor Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 339, known as the Texas Compassionate Use Act, allowing low-THC cannabis oil as a prescription treatment for intractable epilepsy.
  • In the latest landmark legislation, House Bill 3703 was passed, expanding the eligible conditions for low-THC CBD treatments to over 100 medical conditions affecting over 2 million Texans. The passage of this bill also removed the approval of a second physician, requiring only one physician to prescribe medical cannabis.
  • Due to the passage of HB 1325, aka the “Hemp” bill, a DPS memorandum went out to all DPS officials instructing police departments across the state to “cite and release” anyone found possessing a misdemeanor amount of cannabis (up to 4 ounces).
  • House Bill 1535 expanded medical cannabis access to all cancer diagnosis and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) patients throughout Texas. This small but impactful change of legislation also raised the THC cap for the first time, from 0.5% to 1%.

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